With just over a month to go until the opening kickoff of its 2021 fall season, members of the Elon University football team participated in the Colonial Athletic Association’s virtual football media day to discuss the upcoming campaign.
The event took place on Zoom, with coaches and players from each school in the CAA taking questions from the media. Head coach Tony Trisciani, senior quarterback Davis Cheek and redshirt junior defensive lineman Torrence Williams represented the Phoenix.
Elon finished 1-5 in its abbreviated 2021 spring season, but Trisciani said he likes the work the team has put in over the summer and believes this group of players will “push the program forward this fall.”
“We’re anxious to get back out on the field and play the game we love,” Trisciani said. “I’m excited about the growth we made this summer and am confident in our ability to compete.”
Prior to the event, the CAA announced its Preseason Poll and Preseason All-Conference Team, with three Elon players receiving accolades. The league’s head coaches and media relations representatives vote on the Preseason All-Conference Team, which consists of the players expected to perform the best at their positions in the upcoming season.
Elon sophomore Tre’Von Jones was selected to the Preseason All-Conference Team as a punt returner. The defensive back had 165 kick return yards during the 2021 spring season, which ranked second in the conference. He also started six games as a safety and led the team with 46 tackles.
Cheek and junior defensive back Cole Coleman were also named as honorable mentions to the All-Conference Team. Cheek has 29 starts and ranks 10th among all active Football Championship Subdivision quarterbacks in career passing yards, while Coleman has racked up 175 tackles in his tenure with the Phoenix.
Cheek missed the entire spring campaign due to a second ACL injury in three years. Despite his injury, Cheek said there have been both “good days and bad days” during his recovery, and he never considered stepping away from the game.
“Whenever you have an injury, it’s always disappointing, but the thought never crossed my mind to hang it up,” Cheek said. “I know this is just another bump in the road and it just adds to my personal story.”
Elon came in 12th in the CAA Preseason Poll, as voted on by the conference’s head coaches and media relations directors. The poll ranks all 12 CAA teams in order of how they are expected to finish in the upcoming season. This is the first time since 2015 that the Phoenix are at the bottom of the league’s preseason rankings.
“Preseason rankings aren’t going to affect how we train and prepare,” Cheek said. “Obviously, we’d like to be a little higher, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to change anything.”
With 15 first-place votes, James Madison ranked first in the poll for the fifth consecutive year. The Dukes went 7-1 last season and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA FCS playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. The Phoenix will travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia to face JMU on Oct. 30.
Delaware received seven first-place votes and came in second in the poll. The Delaware Blue Hens also advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA FCS playoffs last season for the first time since 2010. Villanova, Richmond and New Hampshire rounded out the top five of the poll, with Richmond receiving two first-place votes. The Phoenix are set to host both Villanova and New Hampshire this season and will travel to play Richmond on Oct. 2.
Though the spring season was difficult for the Phoenix due to injuries, Trisciani said he is confident the team will exceed their preseason ranking this fall if they can find some more consistency on the field.
“The juggling of personnel and the depth during the spring was not good for us. We need to give our guys a chance to settle into their primary positions and kind of master their craft,” Trisciani said. “We’ve got talented players. We need to get better at what we do and be more consistent with that group.”
The Phoenix are scheduled to kick off the season on Sept. 4 at home against Wofford.